Postponed was the star on the opening day of the York Ebor Festival.
He confirmed his status as being supreme over mid-distances, when winning the Juddmonte International. He travelled beautifully through the race, and took up the running inside the three-furlong marker. Victory at that stage looked a formality, but he came under severe pressure from both Mutakayyef and Highland Reel.
Postponed found plenty for pressure, but drifted across the track in doing so, and certainly took Mutakayyef’s ground. Highland Reel stayed on well having been outpaced, though never looked like getting to the winner.
Roger Varian’s star is now as short as 3/1 for the Arc, which remains his main target. The elated trainer spoke to Channel 4 Racing after the momentous success, and said: “He's an incredible horse. The team at home have done a fantastic job. A week ago I wouldn't have known if I was running him here. We're not having loads of winner at the moment, so you're never quite sure. I trusted in the horse's condition and he delivered.”
Of future plans, Varian added: “I'll talk through plans with his owner, but I would think it unlikely he'll run again before the Arc - it will give us plenty of time to tune him up for that race. I'm not sure this is as spectacular as some of his wins, but I thought he stamped himself as by far the best horse in the race.”
William Haggas appeared far less convinced of that analysis, when he spoke of Mutakayyef, saying: “I thought he was going to win, but Paul (Hanagan) said he just ran out of room. The winner started his run down the middle but ended up near us on the near side. I would have just liked them all to run in a straight line so we could have known.”
The frustrated trainer added: “He got the trip but we knew he would as he has won over it before. He's come of age this season. I'm chuffed to bits with him. The only race we have in mind for him is the Dubai Turf at Meydan (next March) - that's what the owner wants to go for and it will suit him down to the ground. Obviously, he'll run before but where I don't know.”
Aidan O’Brien was more than satisfied with the runner-up and spoke of likely International targets later in the season. Races in Australia and America will come under consideration, as the Ballydoyle team attempt to shuffle their extensive and talented pack.
One of O’Brien’s battalion that looks to have a clear target in the coming months is the three-year-old Idaho. Yet another from the Galileo production line, he was impressive in winning the Great Voltigeur Stakes, ensuring he was installed as a short-priced favourite for the St Leger. The trainer confirmed that both the winner and the runner-up Housesofparliament, will both head to Doncaster for the final Classic.
Today, all eyes will be on the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks. O’Brien is set to run four in the race, and is likely to have the front two in the betting. Found will take her chance, and will look to get back to winning ways after a trio of second place finishes. She’s the class act, though has to give plenty of weight to several talented three-year-olds.
Seventh Heaven is one of those, and will be looking to add to her Irish Oaks success. She was impressive at the Curragh, and is sure to give her stable companion a severe test.
Queen’s Trust is another who looks capable of going close. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, she chased home Minding last time at Goodwood in the Nassau Stakes. She’s bred to appreciate fast ground, and her trainer is the joint most successful in the race. She will be ridden by Andrea Atzeni, who ought to be full of confidence after his double on day one.
Racegoers will also be looking forward to seeing the promising juvenile filly Fair Eva. Carrying those famous Khalid Abdullah silks, she is one of the successful first crop by the mighty Frankel. She is challenged by another of his progeny, in the Richard Fahey trained Queen Kindly. It’s an intriguing clash, with Aidan O’Brien sending over his Duchess Of Cambridge heroine Roly Poly, to add further spice.
The opening day was certainly a memorable one, and day two should prove just as exciting. Expect another huge crowd on the Knavesmire, revelling in high quality racing.